I Need a Hero: Incorporating Monomyth and Narrative in Online Course Design
Concurrent Session 9
Explore the role of Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” in establishing students as the “epic heroes” of online courses. Participants will play three original games inspired by old MS-DOS favorites like Oregon Trail and Carmen Sandiego, and reflect on narrative in the design of online curriculum, environments and processes.
Educators face the challenge of creating learning environments that support experiential, student-centered experiences, fostering student engagement and persistence. As a means of creating a high-engagement experience in the design of the online environment, what if we reframed the role, responsibility and path of the student through the course? What if, in the course design process, we took the approach of envisioning the experience as a narrative unfolding over the course of the semester?
In 1949, writer and mythologist Joseph Campbell wrote about the “monomyth” cycle in his seminal work, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” citing that many of our stories passed down throughout time follow a common narrative structure (Campbell, 1968). Since its publication, Campbell’s seventeen stages within the monomyth have been identified in myriad works ranging in diversity from the Bible to Star Wars (Campbell, 1968; Vogler, 1992). This framework includes leaving one’s ordinary world, answering a call to adventure, crossing the threshold, meeting mentors, confronting obstacles, facing down fears, enduring tests and trials, and walking the road to victory. Given the research on gameful learning, online narrative and digital storytelling, and crafting learning experiences that promote autonomy and differentiation, Campbell’s monomyth serves as a powerful tool for planning online curriculum, learning experience design, and structuring the instructional design process itself.
Building on previous sessions offered at past OLC Innovate conferences (“The Hero’s Journey: Leveraging Narrative in Online Course Design” and “Leveraging Narrative in Online Course Design: Storytelling, Ethnography, and the Hero’s Journey”), the presenters will offer three methods for weaving the monomyth cycle into strategies for course design, learning environment design, and instructional design. These methods will be presented by engaging participants in the playing of three original games. Small groups will self-select which game they’d like to play, collaboratively work through the use cases presented, and share out their findings with the larger group. Through the course of the game play, participants will reflect on the salient and “sticky” elements of tried and true game interfaces like Oregon Trail, King’s Quest and the Carmen Sandiego series, tying the storytelling and interactive elements to effective practices within online course design.
Participants in this session will:
Examine a narrative framework within online course design across disciplines and applications
Explore rationales for narrative approaches through a series of original, collaborative role-playing games
Reflect on approaches for creating tangible experiential gains in courses through gameful learning principles such as microcredentialing, avatars, digital storytelling and teamwork
Discuss the implementation of the monomyth in the multiple stages of online course design
Upon completion of the session, participants will be connected to a bevy of resources that will help with marrying the monomyth to the design and development of online courses. They’ll gain access to the presenters’ website, which includes a framework worksheet for narrative in online course design, as well as the games played in the session. They will also be invited to contribute to the examples of narrative in online course design collected on the website, thereby furthering the conversation on how the monomyth can establish students as the epic heroes of their academic journey.
Campbell, J., 1904-1987. (1968). The hero with a thousand faces (2d ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Vogler, C. (1992). The Writer’s Journal: Mythic Structure for Storytellers & Screenwriters.